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NC City Declares State of Emergency Prior to Bodycam Video Release of Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting

(Breitbart) – Officials in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, declared a state of emergency before the release of bodycam footage of the recent law enforcement-involved shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

“The 42-year-old was shot and killed by deputies last Wednesday during the execution of a search warrant. Witnesses have said Brown was driving away at the time and deputies fired several rounds, killing him,” WAVY reported Monday.

Seven deputies have since been placed on administrative leave and three of them resigned. The officers who resigned were not directly connected to the shooting, according to Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten, but one was close to retirement.

The outlet continued:

Brown’s family is expected to view the footage around 11:30 a.m. Monday, and the video is expected to be released to the public sometime after. WAVY and other media organizations have petitioned the court to order the release of the footage, as well as the Elizabeth City City Council. Mayor Bettie Parker says law enforcement expects a “period of civil unrest” after the release of the video and the order helps mobilize state and federal resources.

The order took effect at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning and will continue indefinitely while the city’s offices remain closed and schools utilize remote learning until the end of the week, the report said.

The Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public Schools (ECPPS) made the announcement in a Facebook post on Sunday:

ECPPS Operations Update:Due to the continuously evolving state of civil unrest in our local community and under the…

Posted by ECPPS on Sunday, April 25, 2021

“I direct all departments and agencies of Elizabeth City to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary to preserve public safety,” Mayor Bettie J. Parker said in the declaration.

Protests have been ongoing since the shooting, according to the WAVY report.

In a tweet Monday, the Elizabeth City Police Department urged citizens to “be vigilant” as the city prepared for more protests:

“WAVY also obtained the search warrant in the case on Monday, which says authorities had been watching Brown for more than a year for alleged drug activity. Brown also has two pending drug cases in court,” the outlet concluded.

www.breitbart.com/law-and-order/2021/04/26/city-declares-state-emergency-prior-bodycam-video-release-andrew-brown-shooting/

Woketard Oscar Ratings Plummet 58%, First Time Below 10 Million Viewers

(Breitbart) – “In delayed fast national results just released by Nielsen, the 93rd Academy Awards were watched by a mere 9.85 million, with a dismal rating of 1.9 among the 18-49 demographic,” reports the far-left Deadline.

How dreadful is that? Well, last year’s Oscars used to be the lowest-rated in history, and this is a collapse of 58 percent below that. In the key 25-54 age demo, the collapse was a whopping – this is not a typo – 64 percent.

For comparison, just three years ago, total viewership dropped below 30 million for the first time in the ceremony’s recorded history.

The final numbers will be in later today or tomorrow, but holy cow. Who expected this? I mean, other than absolutely everybody.

The Woketard stink is all over everything related to Hollywood and an overall entertainment industry that has made it stridently clear that its long history of entertaining the masses is over. It is no longer about putting on a good show. Instead, we will be lectured and shamed by elite assholes who think they are too important to sing, dance, and make us laugh.

Who wants to sit through that…? Well, as you can see from Sunday night’s ratings, less than four percent of the country.

What for years had been Hollywood’s most important night, a night where the country came together to gaze at the stars and enjoy a longish but still entertaining show, has now become a chore, homework, a task… The Oscars just aren’t enjoyable anymore, and neither is the product the film industry produces – the movies.

According to numerous reviews of last night’s show – which, like more than 95 percent of America, I did not watch – this overlong disaster opened with a lecture from Regina King and rolled all the way downhill from there.

No thanks.

What did I do last night? I watched a Columbo rerun.

It used to be that celebrities were self-effacing, modest, the butt of the joke… They made fun of themselves, and even though everyone knew it was all an act, we still appreciated it and found it entertaining. Few things are as enjoyable as seeing a Big Star laugh at himself.

Now, these so-called stars are just a cult of pompous, insufferable, blowhards who take themselves oh-so-seriously, even though they have done nothing to earn our admiration or respect. They act as though they are our superiors when we all know they are nothing more than hypocrites and liars who carry a $200,000 gift bag on their laps as they give interviews from the back of a limo about the horrors of wealth distribution and capitalism.

The unearned arrogance is bad enough, but you can also sense just how much Woke Hollywood hates its own audience, how much they all hate everyday people. This hate just pours out of them, every word and look. These idiots might not have much talent, charisma, or smarts, but they do carry an awful lot of hostility.

And that is why we don’t like these people anymore, and why we sure as hell are not going to spend four hours on a Sunday evening suffering at the hands of their ignorance, ingratitude, and pomposity.

Plus, no one saw this year’s Oscar nominees. No one saw any of these movies! The Academy Awards are now the Independent Spirit Awards, an insider-insider ceremony to celebrate small movies that reek of pious self-importance.

Sadly, this ratings disaster will change nothing. Hollywood is lost, lost for the foreseeable future in a wave of that fascist self-importance called woke.

Well, that’s why God invented DVD, so we don’t have to suffer through this crap. Let them go off and celebrate themselves… Let them go off and fool themselves into believing they are stars, when no one knows who they are, or cares to know…

Out here in Real America, if we do tune in, it’s only to point and laugh in-between Columbo episodes.

www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2021/04/26/nolte-woketard-oscar-ratings-plummet-58-first-time-below-10-million-viewers/

BREAKING: It’s OFFICIAL – Gavin Newsom is FINISHED

(Breitbart) – California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will almost certainly face a recall election later this year, after Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced Monday afternoon that the signature threshold had been reached.

In a statement, Weber said:

California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber has announced that the threshold of verified signatures reported by counties has been met for the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom. The valid signatures in the 10th report are 1,626,042, which exceeds the total of 1,495,709 signatures required. Counties still have until April 29th to verify the validity of any remaining signatures.

“This now triggers the next phase of the recall process, a 30-business-day period in which voters may submit written requests to county Registrars of Voters to remove their names from the recall petition,” Secretary Weber said. “A recall election will be held unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn.”

If after this period the recall election still has a sufficient number of signatures, the Department of Finance will have 30 business days to estimate the cost of the recall election. Following that, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee will have 30 calendar days to review and comment on those estimates before the Lieutenant Governor sets the date for the recall election.

Newsom will be the second governor in California’s history to face a recall election, and only the eleventh public official in the state to do so.

breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/26/its-official-signatures-trigger-recall-election-for-california-gov-gavin-newsom/

BREAKING: Nancy Pelosi Just Got The News She’s Been Dreading

(Breitbart) – An internal survey of battleground congressional seats from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) found Republicans are poised to take back the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

The April battleground survey also found House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the most unpopular politician in the country. Previously, the NRCC’s February polling found Pelosi was the most unpopular politician with a 41 percent favorable and a 52 percent unfavorable rating. This month, Pelosi’s image dropped to 38 percent favorable and 56 percent unfavorable. Punchbowl News reported this is in part due to Republicans who “have spent tens of millions of dollars demonizing Pelosi during the last two decades.”

Additionally, the survey also found Pelosi hits 60 perfect unfavorable in “Trump/Democratic districts.” According to the NRCC press release, “Democrats in these districts are going to have an uphill battle defending their decisions to vote in lockstep with Pelosi’s socialist agenda.”

The survey was conducted between April 18-21. It consisted of 1,000 voters across 85 Battleground Congressional Districts and included an oversample in 16 ticket-splitting districts. Polling was conducted 65 percent over a cell phone, 15 percent from a landline, and 20 percent online.

Republicans continue to show they are in a good position to regain the House majority in the midterm elections. In ticket-splitting districts, the survey found 54 percent want “a Republican who will be a check-and-balance to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ agenda in Congress.” Just 41 percent want “a Democrat who will help Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats pass their agenda in Congress.”

Moreover, the NRCC poll showed Democrats misplaced their faith in the improving economy to maintain the House majority and the presidency. Of the voters surveyed, a majority put their trust in “Republicans over Democrats in Congress on jobs and the economy.” The voters overall said they support Republicans by five more points. Forty-six (46) percent supported the Republicans, while only 41 percent supported the Democrats. When Independents were asked, 42 percent put their trust in Republicans over 31 percent in Democrats.

The NRCC memo said, “Democrats’ signature piece of legislation, a partisan COVID bill, is coming up small. A majority (57%) of voters do not believe that President Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus is helping them and their family.”

Furthermore, when asked about the southern border, 75 percent of voters see the border situation “as a crisis or a major problem,” and only 23 percent say “the situation at the border is a minor problem or not a problem at all.” Immigration and border security are one of Biden and Congress’s most pressing issues according to the survey. Since the NRCC’s February survey, concerns regarding the border have more than doubled from 11 percent to now 28 percent:

The released memo detailed growing Republican support as more voters learn about wasteful spending by the Democrats. The NRCC also cited an overwhelming majority of Independent voters who will be less likely to vote for Democrats the more one-sided votes the party takes on major issues.

A supermajority (72 percent) of Independents are less likely to vote for “a Democrat who supports two trillion dollars in wasteful spending that funds Democrat pet projects without any accountability or transparency for how the money is spent.” Also, a remarkable 71 percent of Independents are less likely to vote for “a Democrat who voted for a 2.3 trillion-dollar infrastructure plan that spends 93% on things OTHER than improving our roads and bridges.”

Also, 69 percent of Independents are less likely to vote for “a Democrat who supports two trillion dollars in wasteful spending that will drag down hourly wages over the next ten years.” 68 percent of Independents are less likely to vote for “a Democrat who voted for a bloated and expensive infrastructure bill that could cost the United States one million jobs in the first two years.”

Mike Berg, an NRCC spokesperson, commented in a statement, “Democrats’ dangerous socialist agenda is providing the perfect roadmap for Republicans to take back the majority.”

breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/26/republicans-projected-regain-house-majority-midterm-elections/

JUST IN: Top GOP RINO Turns on Trump

(Breitbart) – House Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) said Monday it is unlikely that former President Donald Trump will serve as the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

“I don’t think that that’s going to happen,” Cheney told the Washington Examiner. “And I think it’s important that it not happen, given what he did.”

Cheney, one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on the charge of inciting a riot on January 6, said she “certainly would never vote for a Democrat” and stated she does not believe Trump “should be president again.”

When asked by the New York Post if she would consider a run for president in 2024, Cheney said, “I’m not ruling anything in or out — I’ve been here a long time.”

During the interview, Cheney also called out GOP senators who legally questioned the 2020 election results.

“I think we have a huge number of interesting candidates, but I think that we’re going to be in a good position to be able to take the White House,” she added. “I do think that some of our candidates who led the charge, particularly the senators who led the unconstitutional charge, not to certify the election, you know, in my view that’s disqualifying.”

Trump has signaled that he will endorse one of Cheney’s challengers, which, as of now, includes Wyoming State Sen. Anthony Bouchard and State Rep. Chuck Gray.

Regarding a 2024 run for president, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News last week that he is looking at things “beyond seriously.”

“I am looking at it very seriously, beyond seriously,” Trump said. “From a legal standpoint, I don’t want to really talk about it yet.”

breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/26/cheney-on-trump-for-2024-i-think-its-important-that-it-not-happen/

WHAT? Biden Puts CUOMO In Charge of White House COVID Calls

(Breitbart) – Embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has reportedly taken over the leadership of the weekly White House conference calls with the nation’s governors about the coronavirus pandemic, since President Joe Biden does not join them.

Philip Wegmann of RealClearPolitics reported Monday that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both opted not to join the weekly conference calls with governors, unlike former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Wegmann’s reporting was confirmed during Monday’s White House press briefing. Press Secretary Jen Psaki demanded to know how many governors he had spoken with, and insisted Biden had never intended to join the calls, despite his pledge a conference call with governors after the election in November that he would work closely with them once he took office.

In addition, Wegmann reported that Gov. Cuomo is now leading the weekly conference calls between the governors and the Biden administration’s coronavirus team, due to his role as head of the National Governors Association:

Andrew Cuomo now leads the calls as chairman of the National Governors Association. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained that the New York governor was put in charge instead of the vice president because a change was needed. One of the reasons, Psaki told reporters in March, “is that there were operational aspects of the way the last administration approached COVID and approached the distribution of vaccines or approached planning and engagement with governors that wasn’t working.”

Cuomo has come under severe criticism for his policy of forcing nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients in the early months of the pandemic, when the risk to older people was already well known and there were alternatives available.

Cuomo’s administration has since been accused of covering up thousands of nursing home deaths. In addition, the governor faces numerous accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior towards colleagues. The New York State Assembly continues to conduct an impeachment investigation, amid calls by leading Democrats from his state for him to resign his office.

Still, the Biden White House has continued to allow Cuomo to lead the nation’s governors, filling in for the absent Biden and Harris.

breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/26/report-biden-has-andrew-cuomo-lead-white-house-covid-calls-with-governors/

Why did the Pentagon transfer 4% of the entire internet to a private company on Inauguration Day?

(NOQReport) – Share the truth While much of the nation was focused on the White House as Joe Biden was inaugurated as President on January 20th, across town at the Pentagon, 4% of the entire internet was being transferred to a mysterious private company in Florida. Other than a handful of journalists at the Associated Press who started looking into it recently, the vast majority of the nation was completely unaware. That would be like the United States selling off a chunk of land bigger than the state of Montana and nobody noticed.

Now, security experts and conspiracy theorists are wondering what the Pentagon is doing with this huge swath of IP space. The value of the 175 million IP addresses exceeds $4 billion. And to add even more intrigue, the company it was transferred to has past connections to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“It is massive. That is the biggest thing in the history of the internet,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik, a network operating company. It’s also more than twice the size of the internet space actually used by the Pentagon.

The Associated Press was able to uncover the top layer but were barely able to dig any deeper. The Pentagon acknowledged the transfer and said in a statement issued Friday by Brett Goldstein, chief of the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service, it was being used to “assess, evaluate and prevent unauthorized use of DoD IP address space.” It also hopes to “identify potential vulnerabilities” as part of efforts to defend against cyber-intrusions by global adversaries, who are consistently infiltrating U.S. networks, sometimes operating from unused internet address blocks.

According to Zero Hedge:

The company, Global Resource Systems, was established by a Beverly Hills attorney, and now resides in a shared workspace above a Florida bank.

The company did not return phone calls or emails from The Associated Press. It has no web presence, though it has the domain grscorp.com. Its name doesn’t appear on the directory of its Plantation, Florida, domicile, and a receptionist drew a blank when an AP reporter asked for a company representative at the office earlier this month. She found its name on a tenant list and suggested trying email. Records show the company has not obtained a business license in Plantation.

Incorporated in Delaware and registered by a Beverly Hills lawyer, Global Resource Systems LLC now manages more internet space than China Telecom, AT&T or Comcast.

One name is linked to Global Resource Systems in the Florida business registry – that of Raymond Saulino – who as recently as 2018 was listed in Nevada corporate records as a managing director of a cybersecurity/internet surveillance company called Packet Forensics. According to the report, “The company had nearly $40 million in publicly disclosed federal contracts over the past decade, with the FBI and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency among its customers.”

In 2011, Packet Forensics and Saulino, its spokesman, were featured in a Wired story because the company was selling an appliance to government agencies and law enforcement that let them spy on people’s web browsing using forged security certificates.

The company continues to sell “lawful intercept” equipment, according to its website. One of its current contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is for “harnessing autonomy for countering cyber-adversary systems.” A contract description says it is investigating “technologies for conducting safe, nondisruptive, and effective active defense operations in cyberspace.” Contract language from 2019 says the program would “investigate the feasibility of creating safe and reliable autonomous software agencies that can effectively counter malicious botnet implants and similar large-scale malware.”

Saulino is also listed as a principal with a company called Tidewater Laskin Associates. Incorporated in 2018 (and sharing the same Virginia Beach, VA address as Packet Forensics – a UPS store – with different mailbox numbers), Tidewater obtained an FCC license in April 2020 for unknown reasons.

It makes sense that the Pentagon would be using the space to catch cyberattacks before they’re able to spread across the spectrum. Such a large portion of the internet would be extremely challenging for massive hack attempts to sidestep. As far as we know, the space wasn’t being used by the government prior to the transfer. As for the company now charged with stewarding the project, its history jibes with the Pentagon’s official story.

Nevertheless, something doesn’t feel right. There are many different and arguably better ways to conduct such cybersecurity activities without drawing attention the way that it has. One can argue they simply didn’t anticipate anyone finding out, and considering this wasn’t revealed until three months after the transfer, the notion is plausible. However, it still doesn’t pass the smell test.

What seems more likely is something much more nefarious. The government’s ability to conduct digital spying is hampered by oversight and red tape. Transferring this block of the internet out of the Pentagon means its also outside the purview of Congress. Their ability to conduct a cybersecurity operation would be much better served by spreading out the block rather than consolidating to a single source. Considering that source is apparently unreachable by the press, we should assume that whatever the Pentagon says it’s being used for is not the whole truth. It may even be an outright lie.

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air seems to agree:

Making things even murkier is the fact that the name of the company – Global Resource Systems – is the same as another company that used the same Florida address but shut down ten years ago after allegations of computer fraud. And this new version of GRS now controls more internet space than China Telecom, AT&T or Comcast, according to the AP report. The only other question the Pentagon answered on the subject was to say that none of the 175 million addresses have been sold off. So what’s actually going on? If the military is just engaging in some massive counterterrorism work in cyberspace and doesn’t want to reveal the details, that’s certainly understandable. But the key players involved and the way this is all being handled certainly makes it look fishy.

If this is just a cybersecurity ploy, it seems clumsy at best. If it’s something different such as a massive surveillance scheme or a powerful hacking hub, then we may have 4% of the entire internet working against us without oversight.

noqreport.com/2021/04/25/why-did-the-pentagon-transfer-4-of-the-entire-internet-to-a-private-company-on-inauguration-day/

Hollywood Erects Walls to Keep Celebs Safe

Union Station is pictured during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2021. - The Oscars will go live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

(Breitbart) – Hollywood is full of anti-border wall celebrities. But on Tinseltown’s biggest night, ten-foot security fences have been erected around Union Station in Los Angeles, California, to keep celebrities safe and the public out during Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards.

The perimeter around Union Station is cordoned off by security fences and the entrances to the building are blocked by similar structures. Signs posted to the fences bear a stark warning: “This property is closed to the public. No entry without permission.”

Union Station is pictured during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2021. – The Oscars will go live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Production trucks are pictured parked in front of Union Station during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2021. – The Oscars will go live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

An entrance to Union Station is blocked off during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 23, 2021. – The Oscars be broadcast live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The security fence runs completely counter to the anti-border wall mantras which flood out of Hollywood.

A view of Union Station is seen during preparations for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards on April 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Union Station is pictured during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2021. – The Oscars will go live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Parts of Union Station are blocked off during preparations for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 23, 2021. – The Oscars be broadcast live from Union Station, on April 25, 2021. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

From the hedging in of Trump’s Hollywood Star with an artistic rendition of a border wall during the 2016 presidential campaign, reported by Breitbart, to the 28 celebrities who came out against a border wall during the same campaign season.

Business Insider listed the celebrities as George Clooney, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Lady GaGa, John Oliver, J.K. Rowling, America Ferrera, Russell Simmons, Bette Midler, Jennifer Lawrence, Miley Cyrus, and others.

It was Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins who in 2019 said “No walls. No borders. Fuck him,” in reference to then-President Donald Trump during a rant in front of a star-studded crowd at the annual National Board of Review Awards.

The hypocrisy seen in the contrast between Hollywood’s anti-border wall posturing and the erection of a security fence around the Academy Awards is similar to the contrast between Hollywood’s anti-Second Amendment rhetoric and the use of good guys with guns to keep celebrities safe.

For example, on February 24, 2019, Breitbart News reported that law enforcement sources indicating that pro-gun control Hollywood Academy Awards attendees would enjoy security “similar to when a U.S. president visits” Los Angeles.

The Hollywood Reporter noted that “a huge chunk of the [Los Angeles Police Department’s] 10,072 sworn officers [would] be on hand” for the event. Moreover, they spoke to an officer who indicated the 2019 Academy Awards would be a “mid-to-max deployment day” involving protocols similar to those used when presidents visit.

On March 4, 2018, Breitbart News reported LAPD’s deployment of “500 officers to wrap the Dolby Theatre in multiple barriers of armed security for the [2018 Awards].”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins , a weekly newsletter focused o n al l things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins . Reach him at [email protected] . You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange .

www.breitbart.com/entertainment/2021/04/25/oscars-hollywood-erects-walls-to-keep-celebrities-safe-during-academy-awards/

Kamala Harris: ‘We Should Have an Assault Weapons Ban’

(InfoWars) – Joe Biden’s VP Kamala Harris on Sunday called on Congress to pass an “assault weapons ban. ”

When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” why her and Biden weren’t doing more on gun control, Harris pushed back, noting Biden has already issued executive orders on “ghost guns.”

“We actually, as an administration, have taken action. The president issued executive orders, for example, on ghost guns, and there is only so much, however, that a president can do through executive action,” Harris told host Dana Bash.

“This president, Joe Biden, has a long-standing history of speaking very clearly and unambiguously about the need for smart gun safety laws, back from the time that he was in the Senate through today. But I guess that emphasizes the point that both he when he was in the Senate when I was in the Senate, same thing, we were pushing for legislation. Congress has to act. Because we have to codify, that’s a fancy word for make permanent, make the law, that we agree.”

Harris then evoked the Sandy Hook shooting as justification for banning “assault weapons.”

“We should have background checks. That’s just reasonable gun safety laws. We should have an assault weapons ban. Assault weapons have been designed to kill a lot of people quickly. They are weapons of war, and Congress has to account, Dana,” Harris said.

“I mean, you know, I was recently in Connecticut. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and the governor there, so many people, the families of Sandy Hook. You know, I honestly thought that when those babies, 26 seven-year-old children, were slaughtered, I thought Congress would act. I thought that would be the thing, and it didn’t happen.”

Bash asked, “But do you think it can happen?”

Harris said, “It has to happen.”

Gun owners across the country have one simple message for Biden and his replacement Harris: Come and Take Them!

www.infowars.com/posts/kamala-harris-we-should-have-an-assault-weapons-ban/

Indian Vaccine Makers Jack Up Prices As Outbreak Worsens; 1st COVID ‘Triple Mutant’ Identified

(Zerohedge) – India’s surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths, potentially driven by a convergence of nasty mutant strains, has in the pace of barely a week eclipsed Brazil to account for roughly half of all new COVID-19 cases being reported worldwide, with large numbers likely going uncounted. After being blamed for helping spark the outbreak with large-scale political rallies during an election year, Indian PM Narendra Modi has ordered western social media firms to censor critical posts from rival politicians while hundreds die due to lack of hospital oxygen, including a group of more than 20 victims in western Maharashtra who died due to a preventable oxygen leak.

As of Monday morning, India’s outbreak showed no signs of abating. The number of confirmed cases has surged to 17,313,163, the second-largest tally in the world after the 32M+ in the US (though experts caution millions more cases have likely gone undiagnosed). On Monday, India reported more than 354K new cases over the past 24 hours, marking the latest in a six-day series of global records for most cases reported in a single day.

Meanwhile, India has reported more than 2K deaths per day for the last 5 days, with a record 2,812 deaths reported Monday, bringing total deaths to 195,123, the fourth-highest official total in the world after the US, Brazil and Mexico.

Health experts warn about the pernicious rise of mutant strains in the country as strains first isolated in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have all been identified in India. These strains are all believed to be more infectious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Hospitals in the Indian Capital of New Delhi have been turning away patients due to a lack of oxygen supplies and open beds. Families lucky enough to score a bed for a sick relative often must then find their own supplies of oxygen or medications like remdesivir that are in short supply at hospitals.

Despite its prestigious Serum Institute’s critical role in the global vaccine rollout, Indians have secured precious few doses of the vaccine as PM Modi’s government initially favored exports over domestic distribution. On Monday morning, as India prepares to expand legal access to any adult over 18, the FT reported that Modi’s government is facing a backlash over its vaccine framework, which will require states to purchase jabs directly from domestic manufacturers. Meanwhile, India’s vaccination campaign has slowed, with the number of jabs falling to fewer than 3M per day, down from more than 4M.

India will expand its vaccination programme to anyone aged over 18 on Saturday but vaccine manufacturers have been given permission to raise prices significantly.

India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. But, after limited uptake in the early weeks of its inoculation campaign, demand has surged and the country is facing shortages. The pace of vaccination has slowed from as many as 4m jabs a day this month to fewer than 3m.

From May 1, the government will continue buying half of India’s monthly vaccine production of about 65m jabs to supply to over-45s. But states and private entities have to procure shots for younger adults at higher prices set by the manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.

Experts warn that breaking with the centralised Covid-19 vaccine campaigns used elsewhere gives the companies too much power, risks setting off chaotic competition and exacerbating inequities as many citizens are unable to secure vaccines.

‘In a pandemic vaccines are a public good…Public goods should be paid through pooled resources by the government. That’s what’s happening around the world,’ said Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health policy expert in New Delhi.

‘By giving a free hand to manufacturers to determine the price…It’s a situation which puts everybody at a disadvantage.’

The Serum Institute, which produces the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said state governments would pay Rs400 ($5.35) and private hospitals Rs600, compared with about Rs150 for the central government. Bharat Biotech, which makes an indigenous jab, will charge Rs600 for states and Rs1,200 for private buyers.

The Serum Institute, which produces the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said state governments would pay Rs400 ($5.35) and private hospitals Rs600, compared with about Rs150 for the central government. Bharat Biotech, which makes an indigenous jab, will charge Rs600 for states and Rs1,200 for private buyers.

At least one rival politician has written to PM Modi asking him to reconsider this new policy, arguing that vaccine campaigns in the country have seen the most success when the government is the sole buyer of vaccines.

The worsening disaster has prompted the US, UK, Germany and other EU members to pledge to provide emergency supplies including oxygen, ventilators, medical aid and raw materials for vaccine production. Germany, in particular, has classified India as a coronavirus high incidence area and also put the country on a separate warning list for coronavirus variants.

Finally, as the western media latches on to the advent of ‘double mutant’ strains in India (something we reported on weeks ago), a third mutation in the B.1.167 strain first identified in India has now been documented, leading to more calls for faster sequencing of viral genomes. Here’s more from India.com.

A report in the Indian Express said that since both the mutations, E484Q and L425R, were located in the virus’s critical spike protein – that binds it to the receptor cells in the body. The mutation should have been studied on an urgent basis, however, the genome sequencing exercise got stalled between November and January due to lack of funds, and disinterest because of the falling Covid curve.

However, now a third mutation in the B.1.167 has been identified now and experts believe that this time, it will be taken seriously.

Experts chided the Indian government for not doing enough to scout for dangerous new mutants: ‘The whole point of gene sequencing is to remain ahead of the curve, anticipate what new variants of the virus are likely to emerge, how they are likely to behave, and what can be done to contain their spread in the population. More the sequences, greater is our information about them, and more effective our response can be,’ a scientist associated with the sequencing effort reportedly said.

‘Unfortunately, India has been well behind the curve on this front. We have been reacting to the developments, instead of anticipating it,’ he added.

www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/indian-vaccinemakers-jack-prices-outbreak-worsens-1st-covid-triple-mutant-identified